As Jill Kessler’s FAQ pointed out, the Hineni program of anti-bullying will be taught at the soon to be merged school. First, I would start with teaching it to the JSA board.
Today I found myself speaking with two of my friends who are on the Pardes Board, both of whom were excited to tell me that Pardes was staying put, for a minimum of a year. Apparently, this did not sit well with the JSA Board (and I stand corrected, the JSA Board has about 8 people on it, not just the two people identified in their annual reports to the state and their IRS 990’s). I was informed that the JSA Board just urged the Pardes Board to default on their present property, abandon their obligations to a mortgage holder who has been good to Pardes, and just move on. When the Pardes Board explained that is not the manner in which they do business, the JSA Board threatened to walk away from the merger. I am now advocating to the parents to put their feet down, voice their opinion to the board, and demand that that the board call off this merger.
I am proud that Pardes’ Board took the approach of integrity and did nothing to blemish their reputation. Pardes is a crown jewel of the Reform Jewish Community and the Jewish Community in general here in Phoenix, and they should not do anything untoward to blemish their reputation, their ability to serve the community, and their ability to get financing for expansion in the future.
I have had it with the bullying that goes on from the Jess Schwartz board. That the Jess Schwartz board is inept and accomplished at destroying schools is proven, but beyond that, they are collectively nothing of substance. A school that was the product of a wealthy donor kept afloat by corruption at the JTO. Corruption that enabled their Treasurer to funnel money to the school from the JTO without any oversight. It is not lost on me that when I brought this matter up publicly, the Treasurer of JSA was forced to resign from the JTO, and without that money, JSA imploded, dragging down King David with it. No less a community arbiter than the Jewish News highlighted that the JTO’s management practices were not even close to being in keeping with best practices. Is this the culture or the example we want for our Pardes’ Kids, to merge Pardes with a school run by thugs, by people who destroyed King David and their own school in the process? By people who rigged the JTO to support their dying monument to their own pride?
Who is the Jess Schwartz Board to put a gun to Pardes’ head and tell them that if they don’t merge the school and move to the JCC Campus that they (JSA) will go ahead and start their Hebrew Language Day School, implying that they will destroy Pardes in the process? Look at the names of the people on the board of that scholastic misadventure (they have changed their name so many times in the last three years I just call it JSA – the Jess Schwartz Abyss). The last names of those board members are frequently the same names of people who have donated heavily to the JCC, whose names are festooned on the wall in great big letters, memorializing their lack of wisdom for all to see. I once thought that these self appointed wise men should read Fooled by Randomness. Now I would be happy if they could just make it through Yurtle the Turtle. What kind of Jewish Community builds a 35 million dollar health club, then sets about trying to raise another $10,000,000 to keep it afloat, diverting money from Jewish agencies and Israel. Is this something we should be proud of? If it is, then I am ashamed and our Federation is a disgrace, a pox on all of our houses.
Intellectual Dishonesty: I had one Pardes Board member (who had kids in both schools and who was very active in the Federation) tell me that the threat posed by the opening of a Charter Hebrew Language School by JSA was very credible. The director told me this was the driving force behind this merger because it is proven that when a Hebrew Language Charter School opens, all the surrounding private Reform schools fail because the Reform Jews will go for the free charter school to avoid paying private school tuition. To that board member: your statement is intellectually bankrupt. If that was your motivation to merge the school, leave the board. To wit, there are only two Hebrew language charter schools in the United States, one in New Jersey and one in Brooklyn, and that is not a viable statistical sample, even if what the board member said was true, which it is not. That sounds like something posited by the board of the Abyss which was not researched by the Pardes Board.
The time has come for the Pardes Board to stand fast to its wonderful heritage, to be open with us as supporters and parents, and rally us to the cause of Pardes. I think we should have a campaign of fund raising to reward Pardes for calling off the merger, and tell Pardes that we will all give money to Pardes for doing what is right. If every family gave an additional $100 per month to Pardes, that would be awesome. And I know money is tight, it is tight everywhere, but I did not contribute to the annual fund this year because I was not asked, and the year before I gave $4,000. So if Pardes calls off this merger and opens their books to us, their community of supporters, I will give the $4,000 that I did not give this year. What could be more exciting than supporting the crown Jewel of Jewish Reform Education and restoring Pardes to its Reform identity? I urge you to email or call the board with pledges that are contingent upon them sending the Abyss on its way and let them know that we stand with Pardes as a Reform Jewish Day School, that we support Pardes as a Reform Jewish Day School, and that we will financially sacrifice for Pardes with our pledges.
In concluding, why would Pardes even want to merge with people who threaten them? What is the possible impetus? To get a shiny new campus that is not needed and that we can not afford. Show the JSA Board the door and wish them well in starting their Hebrew Charter School and let them score their own hat trick of destruction when that fails. I am no Kreskin, but this is the reality: the JCC, if not deaccessioned from the Federation, will finally kill the Federation off, which might actually be a good thing. Because if all they can come up with are solar panels, that is not much of a vision. Photovoltaic panels generate electricity, not wisdom.